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Introduction & questions

Hello! :)

I was stalking this thread for a while before I joined (mostly because I was a little bit intimidated)
But whatever, I'm biting the bullet now!

I was interested in Buddhism in high school but had dropped it for a number of years, only to come back to it recently. The difference now being my level of sincerity. I feel as if I was running away from Buddhism for those years(meanwhile trying to fill that spiritual hole with nice material things).
Coming back to buddhism seriously for the first time is the best decision I've ever made; I feel as if I'm home. I've recently been attending group meditations and dharma talks in my city, and am seeing the benefits of having community support for the first time. I'm still very green, but I do know that this will be a life-long journey for me. I would like to take the refuge vows formally, and am in the process of trying to arrange that. I've read quite differing opinions as to if that is necessary or not, so if you have any insight into that, feel free to share.

As for the question mentioned in the post title-
I am moving to Shunde, China in September. I do not speak the language, nor can I even begin to figure out how to find an english-speaking sangha (without taking the ferry to hong kong, that is). I find that community is what is helping me the most right now, and no community in addition to the isolation of being in a foreign country sounds like it would be detrimental to my practice. Perhaps that sounds a bit dramatic, and hanging out at the (many, many) buddhist temples will produce a solution. Though maybe it won't, and that's why I'm asking. (I do plan to take language classes, but it will be possibly years before I can cohesively understand teachings given)

So basically, what is the best approach to furthering my practice and trying to integrate myself into the community in a place such as China? All thoughts are appreciated~
riverflowkarmablues

Comments

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    Crash course in Mandarin would be useful.
    I believe they have Internet in China, so English speaking Buddhism can be googled . . .
    Not speaking a language will not be an obstacle. I can meditate in most languages . . .
    EvenThirdpersonkarmablues
  • EvenThirdEvenThird NYC Veteran
    @lobster
    I can't seem to find english speaking buddhist centers/temples/communities within the area via google search now. (Unless internet searches are more efficient within the great firewall?)

    I will most definitely be taking a crash course, but the language is difficult and it'll take more than a few courses for me to even be able to follow the most basic of discussions (Or so is my assumption)

    This is true though, as long as I can meditate it'll be fine. :)
    I'm not too worried, but I thought I would ask anyway.

    (On a side note, any place russian speaking would work too.. but what would the odds of that be)
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    I will most definitely be taking a crash course, but the language is difficult and it'll take more than a few courses for me to even be able to follow the most basic of discussions (Or so is my assumption)
    Tell me about it . . . in Chinese it is the intonation, how a word is said, that can change the meaning. In Tibetan how you breath changes meaning . . .

    I am barely comprehensible in English . . . :wave:
    Another good language to learn is humility, how is your bowing?
    :bowdown: that works well in most temples . . .
    EvenThird
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    Just learn the word for 'beautiful' and then wander around saying 'beautiful'... 'beautiful' etc

    I did that in germany. The first words I understood (with 1 year of college german) were verbs. I couldn't understand the radio until one day suddenly all at once I could follow if not knowing exactly the meaning.

    Oh. And welcome to the forum!!!
    EvenThird
  • EvenThirdEvenThird NYC Veteran
    @lobster
    Haha yes, although I will try to learn mandarin to the best of my ability, I am not above resorting to bowing...

    @Jeffrey
    That is a really great idea.. no kidding.. I might do just that! Looking up "beautiful" in mandarin as we speak...

    And thanks! Glad to be here. :)
  • riverflowriverflow Veteran
    edited June 2013
    EvenThird said:

    I've recently been attending group meditations and dharma talks in my city, and am seeing the benefits of having community support for the first time.

    THIS. It makes a massive difference, doesn't it?

    Sometimes it takes time to get to this point (it took me two years being involved with going solo before doing so), but it really does add new depth to practice that is so beneficial.

    The three gems of the Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha create three mutually supporting aspects of practice. In the end, I really do think it is vital to one's practice-- when the time is right for each individual.

    Oh, and hello @EvenThird!
    person
  • EvenThirdEvenThird NYC Veteran
    @riverflow
    I'm quite shy so it took a lot of mental energy for me to start getting out there, but once I did I benefited so much more than I even expected. That is why I asked about relocating. Although I have found a home in the three jewels, and not just the sangha, It would be difficult to go back to some degree of isolation knowing just how much the local sangha benefited my practice. Of course, I will adjust if it can't be avoided, but I will be sure to haunt the temples until I can meet someone who might point me in the right direction...

    But you are right, my local experience has shown this to be vital for me. I wonder why it's importance isn't emphasized as much (at least here in the west) as it could be? (Though maybe it is and I am incredibly oblivious)
  • Straight_ManStraight_Man Gentle Man Veteran
    Well, a lot of westerners are Zennists. They practice, and Sangha for them is de-emphasized, AFAIK.

    I am not, and am just very green with Buddhism, but have no Sangha near me so I simply HAVE to practice alone except for virtual Sanghas. I would have to travel day's travel on foot to get to the nearest Sangha. I could get my mother to drive me once a month, MAYBE, but can follow this virtual community/forum multiple times daily. As a real option, perhaps you can have internet access? And hang out virtually with a Sangha from China until you find multilingual folk?

    Metta, John.
  • EvenThirdEvenThird NYC Veteran
    John,

    That makes sense, I didn't consider the different emphasis that various schools might have.

    I am open to being part of an online community, certainly. It would be nice to chat with a local community there, online or not, but I'll be logging in here too...


    I know I'm really new here but I like you guys already
    :wave:
    riverflowStraight_Man
  • EvenThirdEvenThird NYC Veteran
    Thanks everyone.

    That is true, we are all undeniably dependent on each other, and asking around/knocking on doors is the right way to go about it, especially in a foreign country(especially one with many buddhists).

    Haha, good point! "bathroom" and "beautiful," with a healthy dose of bowing should get me around just fine!
  • Hi, and welcome. This may not help directly but one thing that came to mind after reading your question was that you could get involved with teaching English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) after you move to China, either for pay or just to volunteer.

    This could help with the isolation and possibly put you in touch with other Buddhists who also speak English. I imagine that it would be very difficult to learn Mandarin but there will probably be an expat community you could turn to for support and even if there are no temples available that have services in English, there may be other Western Buddhists living there.
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    I know I'm really new here but I like you guys already
    I wonder how far you can get get just learning the Mandarin equivalent . . . :wave:
    EvenThird
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    Welcome. :)
    EvenThird
  • Hello and welcome!
    I am super new as well, but I am happy you have joined too!
    :wave:

    The tradition of Buddhism I am in has a Dharma Centre in Honk Kong, and I guess they have some English teachings, perhaps it is worth calling them and finding out!

    Whether you choose to go there or to any other tradition in Dharma, the important thing is not to let is escape from our lives.

    Big hug! I will message you the URL!
    riverflow
  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran
    Good luck with moving to China! I think it would be more important in getting some language basics down and getting settled, then using whatever resources/connections you have to find a sangha afterwards.

    I'll send you a PM regarding language since I think I may be able to offer a bit of help there, @EvenThird
    riverflow
  • EvenThirdEvenThird NYC Veteran
    edited June 2013
    @rivercane
    I haven't thought of that, I'll make sure to look into it! And to answer your question on another thread, I am going to the three jewels on 4th ave.

    @Akane
    I'm most certainly not worried about tradition right now. Hong Kong has a number of english speaking centers but is a 2hr+ trip on public transport. Not too big of a deal since I will have a multiple entry visa to get back into mainland, but I'm not sure how often I will be able to go. I might see how travel to hong kong is and decide from there. Thanks for the url though! I might have to check the center out sometime when I'm over there!

    @Invincible_summer
    That's pretty practical and a good way to go about it. Hopefully it doesn't take me too long to get the most basic of grasp on the language, or if it does, I hope to be there even longer... Not a problem then. (Thanks, I'll reply to your PM soon)
  • aMattaMatt Veteran
    edited June 2013
    In addition to the words of others, it might be fruitful to let go of the need for conceptual support, such as speaking and hearing words. Do you need to know my thoughts to wish good things for me? Perhaps it is perfectly helpful to have experiences which transcend linguistic interpretations.

    They will be there, you will be there... don't underestimate the potency of the direct experience of people around us sitting with the feeling metta, compassion, and clarity. When we feel like an outsider because of a "barrier" or "locked gate" we only have to breathe and let go. The gate is not locked, the barrier an illusion... the feeling of isolation the only barrier on which to attend.

    And, welcome! :)

    With warmth,
    Matt
    lobsterEvenThird
  • EvenThirdEvenThird NYC Veteran
    Matt,
    Thank you for that, I might be a little attached to the idea. Perhaps I do not need a buddhist, english-speaking sangha to be immediately available to me. It's more likely to be a practical learning experience without one anyhow. Besides, I'll have time to figure that out when I get there (it might not be as much of a priority as I think)

    Yes! People are the same, and there is no real disconnect from us and them, so I wonder why isolation seems like a possibility sometimes? It's better for me not to speculate on such things anyhow, especially when the truth of the matter points away from isolation. There is no reason why I can't take solace in the people around me (language barrier is not that great of a reason)

    Thank you for pointing out the things right in front of my nose, @aMatt
  • aMattaMatt Veteran
    EvenThird said:



    Yes! People are the same, and there is no real disconnect from us and them, so I wonder why isolation seems like a possibility sometimes?

    Ha! Well said. :) we are the same, and we are different. Perhaps if we put too much stock on thinking, we feel like our thoughts prevent us from connecting. Really, we are always connecting... we're just not always sense-ing the present (such as daydreaming, cycling thoughts etc)

    It still seems like a great idea to learn Mandarin, just try to let go of the fear that you will be unable to take part of a community because of what you know, don't know, where you've been, what you've done, etc. Community is here, there, everywhere, with or without thoughts, words, language, forms etc etc. :)

    With warmth,
    Matt

    EvenThird
  • footiamfootiam Veteran
    EvenThird said:

    Hello! :)

    I was stalking this thread for a while before I joined (mostly because I was a little bit intimidated)
    But whatever, I'm biting the bullet now!

    I was interested in Buddhism in high school but had dropped it for a number of years, only to come back to it recently. The difference now being my level of sincerity. I feel as if I was running away from Buddhism for those years(meanwhile trying to fill that spiritual hole with nice material things).
    Coming back to buddhism seriously for the first time is the best decision I've ever made; I feel as if I'm home. I've recently been attending group meditations and dharma talks in my city, and am seeing the benefits of having community support for the first time. I'm still very green, but I do know that this will be a life-long journey for me. I would like to take the refuge vows formally, and am in the process of trying to arrange that. I've read quite differing opinions as to if that is necessary or not, so if you have any insight into that, feel free to share.

    As for the question mentioned in the post title-
    I am moving to Shunde, China in September. I do not speak the language, nor can I even begin to figure out how to find an english-speaking sangha (without taking the ferry to hong kong, that is). I find that community is what is helping me the most right now, and no community in addition to the isolation of being in a foreign country sounds like it would be detrimental to my practice. Perhaps that sounds a bit dramatic, and hanging out at the (many, many) buddhist temples will produce a solution. Though maybe it won't, and that's why I'm asking. (I do plan to take language classes, but it will be possibly years before I can cohesively understand teachings given)

    So basically, what is the best approach to furthering my practice and trying to integrate myself into the community in a place such as China? All thoughts are appreciated~

    EvenThird said:

    Hello! :)

    I was stalking this thread for a while before I joined (mostly because I was a little bit intimidated)
    But whatever, I'm biting the bullet now!

    I was interested in Buddhism in high school but had dropped it for a number of years, only to come back to it recently. The difference now being my level of sincerity. I feel as if I was running away from Buddhism for those years(meanwhile trying to fill that spiritual hole with nice material things).
    Coming back to buddhism seriously for the first time is the best decision I've ever made; I feel as if I'm home. I've recently been attending group meditations and dharma talks in my city, and am seeing the benefits of having community support for the first time. I'm still very green, but I do know that this will be a life-long journey for me. I would like to take the refuge vows formally, and am in the process of trying to arrange that. I've read quite differing opinions as to if that is necessary or not, so if you have any insight into that, feel free to share.

    As for the question mentioned in the post title-
    I am moving to Shunde, China in September. I do not speak the language, nor can I even begin to figure out how to find an english-speaking sangha (without taking the ferry to hong kong, that is). I find that community is what is helping me the most right now, and no community in addition to the isolation of being in a foreign country sounds like it would be detrimental to my practice. Perhaps that sounds a bit dramatic, and hanging out at the (many, many) buddhist temples will produce a solution. Though maybe it won't, and that's why I'm asking. (I do plan to take language classes, but it will be possibly years before I can cohesively understand teachings given)

    So basically, what is the best approach to furthering my practice and trying to integrate myself into the community in a place such as China? All thoughts are appreciated~

    Having a support group like a Sangha is always good but in case, where there is none, there is always a virtual Sangha in the Net and in books which one could read up and use whatever wisdom there is to be applied to our life. In the case where you have a Sangha in your community, sometimes you'd not find what you are looking for there. It is not a matter of the language used. Sometimes, the Sangha is very much the people who make it up. Just tread carefully in life, keeping the precepts in mind as you live life and if there is a support group, great. If not, fine.
  • PatrPatr Veteran
    Hi,

    In Hong Kong, the lingua is Cantonese, in Shunde, its both Cantonese and Mandarin.

    The temples are predominantly Chinese Mahayana, Pure Land sect.

    CM monks are pure vegetarians, normal greeting is 'Namo Amituofo'.

    A simple bow is sufficient as greeting, no prostrations, blessings, high dais, titles or rituals.

    Just meditation as practice with sutra chanting, pure, simple and beautiful.

    EvenThirdInvincible_summer
  • EvenThirdEvenThird NYC Veteran
    Thank you for all the advice guys! I started learning some basic vocab already. I'm sure I'll be fine. :)
    riverflow
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